For a parent with little ones, when you arrive home on Halloween night, the house is most likely full of excitement. Chances are, the kids have already magically transformed into their evening costumes and are levitating towards the door, passing by any plans that you may have made for dinner.
Don’t let your mind go into panic mode. After all, you’re probably thrown into a situation that has you asking yourself the following questions:
“Should I make my children eat dinner or is it not worth the battle?”
“How many houses equate to an adequate candy supply?”
“What about the increase in childhood obesity?”
After all, from now until Valentine’s Day, the calendar is full of holidays; and each one has its own sweet side! If you’re like me, then you certainly do not need all of this candy around the house.
Here are a few simple suggestions to help you get through Halloween night and the other holidays that follow.
1. Plan ahead
Have a nutritious dinner before going out Trick-or-Treating. This is extremely important because a group of hungry, dehydrated, sugar-intoxicated little monsters is scary for any parent! Let the kids be a part of the planning in this dinner, that way they will want to clean their plate. Also, make sure they have 2-3 glasses of water with dinner. It’s not uncommon for little ones to get dehydrated while running from house to house in their costume.
2. Set limits in advance for consumption
Agree on how much candy your children are allowed to eat on Trick-or-Treat night and each day thereafter. It may not be a bad idea to set a limit for yourself as well, and keep in mind, ‘unlimited access’ or ‘until the chocolate is gone’ is not a good plan!
3. Now is the time for healthy snacks
Fill the fruit bowl with what it’s intended for, fruit! A large visible bowl of juicy apples, bananas, grapes, and oranges is much better than a bowl of M&M’s, Skittle’s, and Hershey Kisses. This will provide everyone with a quick and healthy snack, rather than a dessert at any time.
4. Moderation is key
One of the worst ways to handle candy is to complete forbid it. Sometimes, when children and adults are not given the option for something sweet, it becomes that much more desirable. Candy shouldn’t be outlawed, just moderately restricted.
5. Do not attach emotions
Try not to use candy to reward, bribe, punish, or convey love. Attaching emotions to sweets could accidentally lead to disordered eating in the future; including undereating, anorexia, overeating, and obesity.
6. Start some new family rituals
Do not make the holiday all about the candy. Make it a time to begin new family rituals, such as stuffing a scarecrow full of leaves for the front porch. Carve pumpkins and roast the seeds. Hold an annual scavenger hunt for fall items, such as acorns, pinecones, woolly caterpillars, animal tracks, and colorful leaves. Begin a new photo album that holds pictures of Halloween celebrations, past and present.
It is important to remember that one night of trick-or-treating does not make a fat child or a bad parent. Last and most important, be safe and have a great time… After all, your children are only small for a short while!